Fits & Fugues

Education can be so much more.

David Warlick Keynote -4.21.08

Today, as part of some ongoing staff development, our district is hosting David Warlick who will be doing a keynote and several roundtable sessions. Pardon the writing as I took notes during the presentation.

From the keynote…

One of the things I appreciated immediately was that he set up a blog entry with some links that he would be referencing through his keynote. During the keynote, David Warlick brought all the tech down to the level of students and teachers. That’s his mission, passion, and purpose. It’s not about the stuff; it’s about making meaning and making education meaningful.

Web Sites

Items of Note

  • Information has changed. What it looks like and what you can do with it and how we interact with it.
  • We’re spending too much time teaching our kids to use paper.
  • We’re preparing our kids for the future they are going to invent. We know almost nothing about the future we are preparing them for. “For the first time in history our jobs as educators is to prepare our children for a future that we cannot clearly describe.”
  • We should stop integrating teachnology and integrate literacy. Being suspicious about the information they find. Investigate and become a digital detective.
  • If all we have taught our kids is how to read, are they literate or dangerous? Adults were taught to read what was handed to us. Our kids are not reading this way. They are reading in a global electronic environment.
  • We can’t rely on the gatekeepers to be the sentries of information. It must become a personal skill.
  • Find information, decode it, critically evaluate it, organize it into personal libraries.
  • We should not just develop literacy skills, but literacy habits.
  • We should not just develop lifelong learning, but a learning lifestyle.

Keynote Centerpiece

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic expand our notions of what it means to be literate by

  • Exposing what is true
  • Employing information
  • Expressing ideas compellingly
  • Ethics -The thread that weaves all of them together

A compelling quote, “We will have achieved educational reform when no teacher believes they can teach the same thing the same way every time.”

I’m ready to learn more in the roundtable sessions…

 

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April 21, 2008 Posted by | Education, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Educational Technology Moral Imperative

I recently attended the Virtual School Symposium sponsored by the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL). Gene Wilhoit, Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers(CCSSO) in Washington, DC spoke about “Why Online Learning is Important to States.” In his talk, he said that “online learning is the fire, the wheel, the internal combustion engine of learning.” He also mentioned that education must make online education a priority in school reform efforts. In an impassioned plea for action, he said that educators are the entrepreneurs of education and we must leverage the power of online education to improve the learning of our students as it will become the great equalizer. He track record indicates that his is not the position of rhetoric; he is a man of action who, although claiming he is not a techie, knows the potential of technology -especially in education.

It’s refreshing to see that kind of leadership regarding online and all forms of Educational Technology and we can either drive the bus or be run over by it.

Educational Technology is a manifestation of our moral imperative (to borrow from Michael Fullan) to engage, encourage, and equip our students as they prepare for an unknown future. We must reinvent our thinking to understand that the very nature of technology is to produce something new or improve something that already exists. If we approach it with that wonder and energy, we will soon find that we are limited only by our imaginations and aspirations. To accomplish our educational goals, schools must teach and refine basic skills in core areas. On a pragmatic level, schools exist to develop skills in reading, writing, speaking, and computation. These skills can be measured, recorded, archived and easily evaluated. These core skills comprise the necessary fundamentals that allow schools and society to accomplish the more abstract tasks of producing and developing a critically-thinking, relationally-effective, moral populace.

We must not solely focus on educational technology to the exclusion of the demands of these other critical educational areas, but see that it has its own importance in the organic scope of education. Educational Technology is not an end in itself no more than the pencil or pen; it is simply the means by which we accomplish our educational goals. Even more says George Siemens on elearnspace -I agree and…

One of our critical responsibilities is to make educational technology as familiar as some of the more traditional tools of education. Educational Technology holds no place higher or lower than those of literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, or problem solving, but it can and should be the means by which all these are accomplished. Educational Technology should be so transparent that the underlying messages and meanings put forth by the lesson are not diminished or divided but enhanced and balanced.

The role for all educational leaders from the classroom to the superintendent’s office is the same: to use the tools both in the ways they were intended and perhaps in ways they weren’t for the success of our students. Technology allows us to discover our true potential and that of our students. Technology can free us to pursue our passions and purposes. The problem with technology is not with its implementation, use, or mastery; it is with our avoidance, misuse, and ignorance. Additionally, the threats of technology are isolation, distraction, and fatalism; the promises are community, engagement, and optimism. The only true power of technology comes in its ability to extend our own shortsightedness. Leaders, at all levels, must concretely orchestrate urgency, direction, and vision. Leaders are obliged to demonstrate the need and opportunity for improvement and guard against the potential threats and problems of technology.

Until we realize that the people and messages behind the technology are of the truest importance, all we will see is the technology itself. We are not to set up for ourselves monuments to technology; instead, we are compelled to reach our greatest potential as a community of learners focused on building a well-fortified foundation for the futures of our kids. The focus should not be just on the acquisition of new technologies, but on the ideas that the new technologies can set loose. We hope that technology is an extension of the best we see in ourselves and, in its application, the best we offer to our children. Every technology is a type of educational technology in that it has the ability to teach us about ourselves and provide educational opportunities. We must ask and be ready to answer the question of what happens when the promise of technology meets the power of the human spirit. Then, we will have taken the first step to making technology an essential part of the entire educational picture.

November 13, 2007 Posted by | Education, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment